Melnyk says Senators well-served by limited Olympic participation

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk still can’t help but wonder, “what if”?

 

ST. PAUL, Minnesota – Senators owner Eugene Melnyk still can’t help but wonder, “what if”?

What if goaltender Dominik Hasek didn’t come up lame, suffering a groin injury while representing the Czech Republic at the 2006 Olympics in Italy?

“If we have Hasek, I think we win it all,” Melnyk said in an interview with the Citizen Monday.

Ray Emery took over in goal from the injured Hasek. The Senators defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games in the first round of the post-season, but lost to the Buffalo Sabres in five games in the second round with Emery in net.

Hasek was still on the sidelines, unable or unwilling to make a return, even though the club’s leaders implored Hasek to try and come back.

The Senators owner was musing about the past and the history of participation by NHL players in the five-ring circus because he believes the Senators are in great shape this time around because only two of their players – defenceman Erik Karlsson and left winger Milan Michalek – will be off to Sochi next month.

Some teams have 10 players going, others have nine. And that, according to Melnyk, will work to the Senators advantage. He says he has the evidence to prove it.

Melnyk, who sought out forensic doctors to try and prove that Matt Cooke deliberately attempted to slice Erik Karlsson’s Achilles last season, also commissioned a study to look at the relative gains and weaknesses for NHL teams based on how many of their players went to the Olympics.

“It showed a reverse correlation,” Melnyk said. “The more players you had that went to the Olympics, the less success you had (in the playoffs). It’s mainly because guys go over there and get tired.”

Melnyk suggests that it’s more favourable for veterans to take time off to “take care of their bruises so they’re ready to go” when the NHL resumes. He believes players may even be better served taking a cruise during the Olympic break.

All that said, there’s a part of Melnyk who feels for the Senators players such as Bobby Ryan and Marc Methot who came close to earning a spot on their respective squads.

“On one hand, I am disappointed that we only have two guys going,” he said. “As for Karlsson, he’s young enough that he can withstand the grind and Milan, he’s doing it because he hopes his team has a shot at winning.”

 

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